Yesterday was the New Douro tasting at the Tate Modern in London. It has been going for a few years now, and it’s a great event. But it could be even better (more on that later).
The focus was on 2008s, which are just baby wines, but it is nice to get an early look at the vintage. My impression is that it is a very good vintage indeed – perhaps as good as 2007, albeit different. It’s a year with freshness and good acidity, and bright tannins. Producers who make more elegant wines are thrilled with it.
I spoke to many producers about how they view recent vintages. 2010 is seen as quite difficult by many, because it’s a high production year.
2009 is turning out much better than people thought when the grapes were coming in. Some really, really like it- one described it as a commercial vintage, though.
2007 is widely regarded as a classic, although one commented that it was a bit hot, with less balance.
I won’t mention specific wines here, but I will comment on how this tasting could be better. I’m not so keen on the focus on the latest vintage. This tasting is the only exposure to top Douro wines for much of the UK trade. And they are seeing the wines at quite an awkward stage, while they are still so young.
Producers should be allowed to bring older wines. I spoke to the organizer afterwards and she said that from next year, producers will be allowed to show a wine from a decade earlier.
That’s too restrictive, and although 10 years seems a neat figure, there needs to be latitude for producers to bring an older wine, but not necessarily from 10 years earlier.
For next year, this would be a 1999. Not many of these producers were making wines in 1999 – Niepoort, Vale Meao, Vale Dona Maria, Crasto…and who else?
It would be much better to have a spread with some 2001s, 2003s and maybe even the odd 2004. Whatever is showing really well now. I hope the organizers don’t become too rigid about this, because it is important to demonstrate that Douro wines can develop nicely.
I also think it would be good to widen the net and include more producers. There are notable omissions, many of whom are making superb wines, and it’s for the good of the Douro to have these other producers included.